Good morning, Boulder! 🌄 We’ve got lots of stories for you today, so let’s get right to it.
First up: John Herrick reports on the state’s approval of another waiver extension allowing what was Boulder County’s only 24/7 walk-in mental health crisis center to continue operating at reduced hours — at a time when demand for mental health services is high. Plus the latest on how the money raised through the Boulder County Wildfire Fund is being deployed to assist Marshall Fire survivors; and insight from CU experts on what this extra-windy spring could mean for the rest of the fire season.
And as always, we’ve got the essential community info you need to know today — like the latest with the plan for East Boulder, Boulder OEM’s Hazard Mitigation Plan draft, a new free shuttle to the Hessie Trailhead and more.
See you Friday. ✌️ Thanks, as always, for reading.
– Jezy, managing editor
⛅ Fire and ice forecast: Mostly sunny today with highs in the low 80s and a chance of rain after noon. Thursday will be hot, dry with fire concerns. “Then, a near record cold airmass will arrive Friday bringing a chance of snow.”
🏘️ East Boulder housing plan gets nod from council: In the latest step toward creating a long-term vision for East Boulder, the Boulder City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a plan that could lead to the construction of about 5,000 new homes and apartments in the city’s primarily industrial eastern half. During a meeting that stretched into the early hours Wednesday morning, councilmembers hashed out what could be the final touches to the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan, addressing issues related to housing location, job growth in the area and stormwater management.
🛑 But wait, not a done deal yet: One change councilmembers made will cut an estimated 180 housing units from the plan due to concerns the homes would be located too close to heavy traffic and noise caused by CordenPharma, a global pharmaceutical manufacturing company. The Planning Board, which approved a similar version of the plan earlier this month, will have to approve the changes made by the City Council before city planners will have the official green light to begin redrawing city land use codes necessary to implement the plan.
💰 Disaster Resilience Rebuilding Program: Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed into a law a $15 million Disaster Resilience Rebuilding Program to provide loans and grants to residents affected by declared disasters, such as the Marshall Fire. The money can be used to pay for the cost of rebuilding or repairing homes, rental assistance and replacing property used for a business. The law also allocates $20 million to subsidize the costs of making homes more energy efficient.
🆕 Respite center: The Boulder City Council on Tuesday approved spending $375,000 to renovate a city building on Spruce Street to create a respite center for homeless people transitioning out of the hospital after a surgery and in need of a place to heal. The city is working on an agreement with Boulder County on a long-term plan for the center. The decision came as part of the council’s approval of a $37 million supplemental spending plan for the 2022 city budget.
🚨 Hazard Mitigation Plan draft: The Boulder Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has released its 2022-2027 Hazard Mitigation Plan draft. OEM is asking for community feedback before adopting the final plan, designed “to better protect people and property from the hazards that threaten our county,” later this summer.
📅 Public hearing: Boulder County Commissioners will host a virtual public hearing tomorrow morning, May 19, at 9:30 a.m. The hearing will focus on Ordinance 2022-1 which, if approved, would impose a $300 fine for a third offense of residing in a vehicle for more than 24 hours over a seven-day period on county land. It defines residing as “sleeping, cooking, or otherwise engaging in activities of daily living, including having and storing paraphernalia of daily living such as clothing, personal hygiene items, or cooking equipment, or using shelter including any cover or protection from the elements other than clothing (such as a tent, sleeping bag, vehicle, or other structure or material).”
🚌 Free Hessie Trailhead shuttle: Starting Friday, May 27, Boulder County will begin providing free shuttle service from Nederland High School to the Hessie Trailhead on Fridays, weekends and holidays this summer. The trailhead offers access to Lost Lake and the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. No passes, reservations or fare is required to use the service. Per the county: “On days when the Hessie Shuttle is operating, the RTD route NB between Boulder and Nederland High School will be free to ride; visitors are encouraged to park in Boulder and ride the bus all the way to their hike.”
🏳️🌈 Pride booth slots available: Want a booth for your organization at this year’s Boulder Pride Festival on Sunday, June 12? Slots are still available. For more information, email Out Boulder County.
Boulder County’s primary mental health crisis center will remain closed on weekends as Mental Health Partners struggles to staff up
Mental Health Partners will continue operating its walk-in mental health crisis center at reduced hours for longer than it originally planned due to an ongoing staffing shortage, according to state records.
The decision by Boulder County’s largest mental health nonprofit means residents experiencing a mental health crisis will continue to have fewer resources available to them, especially on weekends, when the crisis center is entirely closed.
The walk-in center is designed to serve anyone who is experiencing a mental health emergency, such as psychosis or suicidal ideations, and help keep more people out of local hospitals, where wait times can last hours.
Mental Health Partners is required under state regulations to operate the facility on 3180 Airport Rd. at all hours of the day, seven days a week. It is the county’s only dedicated in-person crisis center of its kind open around the clock.
The reduction in hours leaves an ongoing hole in the county’s mental health safety net at a time when mental health workers say demand is high. Boulder has faced one crisis after another in recent years, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the King Soopers shooting to the Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than a thousand homes in the Town of Superior and City of Louisville.
Boulder County hires Lutheran Family Services to help Marshall Fire survivors rebuild their homes and lives
Boulder County Commissioners on Tuesday, May 17, approved a contract with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains to help run the county’s Marshall Fire “recovery navigators” program, established to support fire survivors in the thick of rebuilding and recovery after the disaster.
The program will connect survivors with funding opportunities and guidance on the rebuild and recovery process through one-on-one counseling. It is expected to be up and running as soon as the middle of June and continue for one year.
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains is a faith-based, human services organization in Denver. The nonprofit “walks with the vulnerable, through services that heal, strengthen, and provide hope,” according to its mission statement. It has provided disaster response services in the state going back to the late 1990s, including after the October 2020 East Troublesome Fire, according to its website.
The agency will hire, train and supervise recovery navigators, who will help people access financial resources, rebates, legal services, mental health support, insurance assistance and more as they navigate the complex and costly process of rebuilding their homes and lives.
The contract is for $1.4 million. About $1 million of that will be paid out of the Boulder County Wildfire Fund, which became the main conduit for donations in the wake of the most property-destructive wildfire in Colorado history. The fund is being administered by the Community Foundation Boulder County.
The remaining $400,000 will be paid by the county.
There was no bidding process for the contract. A waiver indicates that Lutheran Family Services was the only provider willing and able to perform the work.
An extra-windy spring contributed to a record 16 red flag warnings for Boulder in April. What will it mean for the rest of fire season?
Think it’s been unusually windy on the Front Range this spring? You’re right.
The National Weather Service in Boulder issued a record 16 red flag warnings — a measure of fire risk based on warm temperatures, very low humidity and strong winds — in April alone. That’s the most issued in a month in the history of the office. And some number-crunching by CU Boulder researchers confirms it was among the windiest Aprils in the last two decades, with day after day of strong or long-lasting gusts across the state.
“This spring, most of us on the Front Range are on edge because of what had happened with the Marshall Fire, and so any individual event of strong winds has felt significant,” said Julie Lundquist, associate professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, who gathers measurements in the field and conducts simulations which can fundamentally improve our understanding of the atmosphere. “But it has, in fact, been an exceptionally windy April.”
Lundquist, Andrew Winters, assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and McKenzie Larson, recent graduate of the department, spoke about the windy conditions this spring, what may be causing them and what it could mean for our upcoming fire season.
💌 Printmaking workshop: Inspired by Voces Vivas: Stories from the Latino Community in Boulder, the Museum of Boulder hosts an art-forward community event to design your own greeting cards on Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Participants will learn all about the printmaking process as instructors demonstrate how to use linoleum stamp cut prints. Blank greeting cards, print designs and cutting tools will be provided. More info here.
🐝 Pollination station: Drop by the Unitarian Universalist Church parking lot at 5001 Pennsylvania Ave. this Saturday, May 21, for the annual plant exchange hosted by the People & Pollinators Action Network. The free event for native plant gardeners takes place from 9 a.m. until noon.
🎨 Art from the Heart: AdderlyArt Studios presents an artist showcase with live music and a food truck this Saturday, May 21, at 2490 Cana Court in Lafayette from 1–7 p.m. The event will include sculpture, painted works, Henna art and more — along with cuisine from Lenin’s Wood Fire Pizza food truck.
Covid-19 Updates: May 18, 2022
- 209 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬆️Up 97% over preceding 7-day avg.
- 15 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬆️Up from 10 since May 10, 2022.
- 44% percent of ICU is occupied. ⬇Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.
- Third round of free at-home Covid tests available: Every household in the U.S. is eligible. Order yours here.
- New booster dose for kids: The FDA has expanded eligibility for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster to children ages 5–11.
What We’re Reading
📖 Property tax relief bill signed into law: “Gov. Jared Polis began his post-General Assembly bill-signing tour Monday by inking into law an effort to blunt the bite of rising property taxes and another that delayed a gasoline fee initially set to go into effect this year. The first, SB22-238, amounts to a $700 million cut to property taxes in 2023 and 2024 as policy makers try to dull how much owners owe due to skyrocketing property values. It cuts how much of a property’s actual value is used for tax purposes.” [Denver Post]
ICYMI from BRL
🍎 BVSD paraeducators say they’re underpaid for their vital work in the classroom. Will a new deal bring their wages in line with the cost of living in Boulder County? A tentative agreement reached between the district and the Boulder Valley Paraeducators Association includes a 1.5% general pay raise, a cost-of-living increase and stipends for additional training.
🏠 In a possible first for Colorado, City of Boulder may expand its affordable housing program countywide to jointly address the regional crisis. The idea comes as part of a recommendation for spending federal stimulus money to ease the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on low-income families.
💰 Plans for the remaining cash in the Boulder County Wildfire Fund are coming into view. What will it mean for survivors? During the second public meeting regarding the dispersal of $28.5 million in earmarked Marshall Fire disaster relief, Community Foundation Boulder County CEO Tatiana Hernandez laid out details surrounding a formula for determining how funds will be divided among households.
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